I whimpered as soon as I saw this month’s theme, things nobody told you about being a writer. Why? Well, there are a lot–and just like any other career, the things nobody talks about are probably the bad things. Things like….there aren’t champagne filled, limousined book tours anymore. Whimper. But that’s nothing compared to the worst secret of all: once you’re a writer, you have to cut back on reading.
Honestly, if someone had told me that upfront, I might not have even typed up the first chapter. Because, like many of you, imagine, I started out life as a bookworm. And a speedreader. Ever since I was eleven, I’d check out between 7-12 books from the library every week and devour them. I’d take a book in the car, to the doctor, tucked in my purse for every errand. If there were a spare 2.5 minutes in my day, I’d spend them reading.
But now, I have two careers – a day job that is full time, and a writing job that is full time. Actually, as many people will tell you, writing is two jobs: writing the words, and managing the business of writing. So yes, I leave the house at 8:15, come home at 6:45 after hitting the gym, make dinner….and then write until midnight.
This isn’t a pity party. I actively choose to do this, and I enjoy it tremendously. But if you look at my schedule, something had to give – and it was reading. Okay, and my television watching took a serious hit, too, but for now we’re concentrating on reading. There are no more empty hours in the day to sit down with a good book. I barely have time to squeeze in the required reading for my two book clubs. Old habits die hard, so I still read every night once I hit the mattress – but not for long.
It is almost a physical pain, a withdrawal, not being able to constantly read. I miss it every single day. It is the ultimate sacrifice I made to have a successful career as a writer. Every time I finish a manuscript, I celebrate by going on a reading binge, and it is glorious. Just know that you’re going to have to trade churning out your words for enjoying someone else’s.